But weeks after Washington, D.C.’s chief financial officer certified that these funds were in fact available, the Bowser administration announced that the district’s Department of Human Services, which would facilitate some important social supports, is facing He said the city council’s plan could not go ahead due to existing high spending and staffing constraints. service program.
In recent weeks, those who disagree with the Bowser administration’s rationale have stepped up the pressure. City Councilwoman Janice Lewis George (D-4th District), who introduced the budget provision, posted it last week on Dec. 13. opinion A post from the City Attorney’s Office
“Because the statutory language regarding the SNAP benefit increase is mandatory and incorporated into the approved budget plan, the Mayor must spend the funds as directed by the Legislature and cannot unilaterally use them for other purposes. You can not.” opinion Here’s what the Attorney General’s Office says: “We are aware of the Mayor’s power to unilaterally divert funds required by law and appropriate for a particular purpose to another, or to generally refuse to expend funds specifically directed to be expended by the Legislature. not.”
Needy DC households expected an increase in SNAP. However, the city is not providing that.
Advocacy groups say the well-being of the 140,000 D.C. residents who rely on SNAP benefits is at risk, especially after pandemic-era federal aid that previously strengthened benefits expired in March. It says that there are. In mid-December, they predicted: message Wilsonville and use the hashtag #TheGrinchWhoStoleSnap. (Despite the funding dispute, residents receiving SNAP benefits should expect to receive their regular allocation next month.)
The organization, DC Hunger Solutions, is unfunded by City Councilwoman Christina Henderson (I-At Large), who created temporary benefits and regional SNAP grants to enhance food assistance allocations to families. It has been fighting for a separate 2022 bill and has circulated a petition. Required Bowser (D) to use the excess earnings in SNAP as originally planned. In November, Henderson said the Bowser administration proposed instead of increasing SNAP payments, it would provide a tradeoff for administrative fees for Summer EBT, a federal program that provides food assistance to families with school-age children. . The program will cost the city his $2 million.
In a message Thursday, Henderson said D.C. met the Jan. 1 deadline to submit a notice of intent to operate the summer EBT program, but given the staffing challenges, how the human services department will operate the program remains uncertain. said he did not know. For Summer EBT, residents will have to submit an application in addition to other administrative steps, even if they already receive SNAP benefits, she said.
“Your administration has chronically underfunded public benefit enrollment and distribution, and now you are ignoring the law because of spending pressures that are neither unexpected nor new, of your own making. “The D.C. Council argues that it can refuse to implement SNAP increases by doing so.” In a letter to Bowser in mid-December, he said: “We told District residents that this funding is coming because it is required by law. Now, as we approach the holiday season, residents are concerned that this much-needed assistance is no longer on the horizon. You will find out.”
A spokesperson for Mr. Bowser did not respond to a request for comment Thursday.
Vikram Swarup, executive director of Legal Aid DC, which provides free legal services and assistance to low-income individuals, said Thursday that the organization sent a letter to Bowser in mid-December urging him to implement the temporary SNAP increase. Ta. The 2025 budget also fully funds Henderson’s “Give SNAP a Raise” bill.
DC SNAP recipients expected to increase thanks to excess city revenue
“Expanding SNAP funds is critical for customers at a time when pressures to pay for food, rent, and other necessities are soaring,” Swarup said. In an interview. “Congress passed laws to help people get a little more money to support their families during this difficult time. It is morally important to ensure that funds go to those who need them. It is mandatory and legally required.”
City Council Chairman Phil Mendelson (D) said in an interview that Bowser and relevant councilors, including Health Committee Chair Henderson, will hold a meeting early next year to explore a path forward. He said he is working hard to achieve this goal. Mendelsohn said DHS has spending pressures of more than $75 million and further argued that it does not have the technical capacity to issue increased benefits next week, even if funding is not a concern. It is said that there is
“Congress was very clear that it wanted SNAP benefits, which had been increased during the pandemic, to continue even if local funding was required. , it’s clear the law is on our side,” Mendelsohn said. “I hope we can resolve this issue.”
Mendelsohn said the meeting is tentatively scheduled for the second week of January, but declined to speculate on what the resolution might be.
“Over the past year, there have been a number of disagreements between the City Council and the Mayor, many of them regarding funding,” he added. “It would be nice to finish this latest issue and move on in a more positive direction.”
Megan Flynn contributed to this report.